Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, with Liberman calling him an “anti-Semitic, neighborhood bully,” and Netanyahu saying indirectly that he supported terrorism.
“The war against terrorism will not succeed if it is founded on hypocrisy,” the prime minister said after a meeting in Jerusalem with an AIPAC delegation.
“And I’ve yet to hear any world leader condemn the words of Erdogan, not one.”
The Turkish leader on Monday blasted
Netanyahu’s participation a day earlier in the massive march against terrorism and for free speech in Paris, saying he did not understand how the prime minister “dared go there,” saying – in a reference to Operation Protective Edge – that he should “give an account for the children, women you massacred.”
Netanyahu said Erdogan’s “shameful comments must be repudiated by the international community, because the war against terrorism will only succeed if it is guided by moral clarity. That means that the terrorists and their supporters must be condemned, and those fighting them, like Israel and the United States, must be supported.”
The world would be “tested by these issues of moral confusion versus moral clarity and courage versus cowardice again, and again, and again. This is not a one-shot battle,” he said.
Turkey is one of the few countries in the world that openly and enthusiastically supports Hamas, an organization on both the US’s and EU’s list of terrorist groups.
Netanyahu made similar comments regarding Erdogan following a meeting he held with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia- Margallo.
Liberman, meanwhile, said that Erdogan’s vitriolic attacks against Israel was one of the reasons for the surge of anti-Semitism in Europe. He told a gathering of Israel’s ambassadors to Euro-Asia meeting in the Foreign Ministry that there were severe ramifications to Europe’s ignoring the hate and incitement Erdogan cultivates toward Israel.
“The silence of the lambs of cultured Europe, politically correct Europe, toward a neighborhood and anti-Semitic bully like Erdogan and his friends brings us back to the reality of the 1930s,” he said.
Liberman, who seemed recently to have been trying to move toward the political Center, bucked that trend during the speech, calling for the ouster of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he accused of waging “diplomatic terror” against Israel.
In a sign that Liberman is in the midst of a tough election campaign, with his Yisrael Beytenu party plagued by corruption allegations and hurting badly in the polls, the foreign minister’s spokespeople billed his comments beforehand as an important diplomatic address, and for the first time distributed the text of his speech to reporters before delivery.
In the address, Liberman said Abbas’s anti-Israel moves in the diplomatic arena left the country no choice but to act strongly in response, and that the transfer of tax funds to the PA that were frozen earlier this month should not be freed up until Abbas was removed from power.
Abbas was an obstacle to any diplomatic progress, and was concerned solely about his political survival, not a Palestinian state nor the fate of the Palestinian people, Liberman said.
“The only way for him to cover his weakness against Hamas and his [political] opposition is by waging war [against Israel] in the international arena,” he said. “That is the way he diverts attention on the Palestinian street, and that is how he comes out as a hero.”
But, Liberman said, those moves do nothing to bring him closer to a Palestinian state.
Abbas’s recent steps in the diplomatic arena constituted a crossing of all redlines, and Israel had no choice “but to take determined actions” against him, Liberman said.
The freezing of the transfer of tax revenues to the PA – a step taken earlier this month in response to its joining the International Criminal Court – must not just be a temporary measure, as has been the case in the past, the foreign minister said.
“This time it needs to be clear that the money will be not be returned until he is removed from the government in Ramallah,” he said. Liberman also expressed support to moves inside the US Congress calling for punitive measures against the PA because of its joining the ICC, including closing the Palestinian representation in Washington, and shutting off US funds.
”If we are speaking seriously about a diplomatic process, there is a need first and foremost to be rid of Abu Mazen [Abbas], and of course to eradicate the Hamas government in Gaza,” he said. “Anyone who talks about a diplomatic process being possible with Abu Mazen in Ramallah and Hamas in control of Gaza, it is all talk.”
Liberman said that after Abbas was gone and Hamas eradicated, there would then be a need to turn to the Quartet – who should then turn to the Jordanians and Egyptians – and decide how to run free elections inside the PA. Those elections, he added, should be held without the participation of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations, and without Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, convicted of terrorist murders and serving five life-sentences.
In looking to solve the Middle East conflict, it was necessary to recognize 22 years after the Oslo Accords that the conflict is not between Israel and the Palestinians, “but between Jews and Arabs,” Liberman said.
As such, any comprehensive accord must include agreements encompassing not only the Palestinians but also the Arab world and Israel’s Arabs, he said.
During his comments, Liberman attacked the rampant political correctness in Europe that he said ignored or downplayed the anti-Semitism there.
Liberman, who was in Paris on Sunday during the massive anti-terrorism march, said that when he watched CNN’s coverage he was struck by its ignoring the “Jewish angle.”
The network, when talking about the attack at the kosher grocery, did not mention it belonged to Jews, or that the hostages and victims were Jews who were killed because they were Jewish, he said.
“We need to speak honestly, without shame, and put everything on the table, because the basis for the murderous anti-Semitism is Islamic extremism on the one side, and the irrational lashing out against Israel on the other,” he said.
In the same vein of speaking honestly, Liberman said “it is forbidden” for Israel to “compromise on the values of Zionism.”
In the midst of the swirling internal debate as to how far Israel should go in calling on French Jews to immigrate to Israel following the Paris attacks, Liberman said, “There is no such thing as Zionism without aliya. And it doesn’t make a difference if it is France, the Jews of Russia, or the Jews of the US.
We must talk about aliya, that is the meaning of Zionism, and we will not compromise.”